Escaping the Past to Tell Its Story: Contemporary Immigration at the Tenement Museum
That mission has now led to planning for a second tenement building that continued to house immigrants after World War II, after the Museum’s original site had been boarded up as unfit for human occupancy. The Museum will interpret the homes of Holocaust survivors, a 1950s Puerto Rican migrant family, and 1960s Chinese immigrants; the exhibit will explore the end of the quota system and the deeper meaning of the Hart-Cellar Immigration and Nationality Act. There is a problem here in that the District’s formal period of significance does not accommodate the continuing story of immigration to the Lower East Side—or to America. The Museum now needs to bypass preservation law to explore how the neighborhood became a haven for Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives in the United States under the nation's first refugee act, one of New York’s major areas of Puerto Rican settlement, and ultimately the largest Chinatown In the Western Hemisphere.
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